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Civil Litigation in the United States, 1977-1979

Resource Type
Dataset : survey data
  • Kritzer, Herbert M.
  • Trubek, David M.
  • Felstiner, William L.F.
  • Grossman, Joel B.
  • Sarat, Austin
Other Title
  • Version 1 (Subtitle)
Publication Date
Funding Reference
  • United States Department of Justice. Federal Justice Research Program
  • United States Department of Justice. Office for Improvements in the Administration of Justice
  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice
  • National Institute for Dispute Resolution
  • National Science Foundation
Free Keywords
arrests; attorneys; civil law; court cases; court system; criminal justice system; disposition (legal); legal systems; plea negotiations
  • Abstract

    The Civil Litigation Research Project, based at the University of Wisconsin Law School, was organized in 1979 to develop a large database on dispute processing and litigation and to collect information on the costs of civil litigation. Data were gathered on topics such as negotiation proceedings, relationship between lawyer and client, and organizations' influence on the outcome of a dispute.
  • Table of Contents


    • DS0: Study-Level Files
    • DS1: Comprehensive Civil Litigation Reports for Mainframe Computers
    • DS2: Comprehensive Civil Litigation Reports for Micro Computers
    • DS3: Household Screener
    • DS4: Organizational Screener
    • DS5: Dispute survey open-ended questions
Temporal Coverage
  • 1977 / 1979
    Time period: 1977--1979
  • Collection date: 1979
Geographic Coverage
  • United States
Sampled Universe
Disputes processed in the United States by courts and by alternative third party institutions and those processed bilaterally, i.e., without the involvement of a third party.
A random digit dialing scheme was employed for the screener surveys, and varying types of sampling designs were used for courts and institutions. See pages 0-7 through 0-11 of the Comprehensive Datafile codebook for complete details of sampling procedures.
Collection Mode
  • Documentation for this collection is machine-readable only. The unit of analysis is the "dispute" or "case." The data collection consists of five files, the first two of which are hierarchical and variably blocked. Part 5 is also variably blocked. In Part 1, there are 75,996 records generated from data gathered on approximately 2,631 disputes. The number of records per case varies depending upon the characteristics of the dispute. There are 40 possible record types that may describe a dispute. Examples include (1) "institutional" records, which record the basic events that transpired during a case, (2) "appeals" records, which document the events surrounding the appeal of a case, and (3) "relations with opponent" records, which provide data on the nature of the relationship between the opposing parties in a dispute. The average record length for Part 1 is 142 characters, and the maximum record length is 1,025 characters. In Part 2, the microcomputer version of the dataset described above, there are 89,607 records generated from the same 2,631 disputes. The average record length is 112 characters with the maximum length being 254 characters. Parts 1 and 2 are documented by the same codebook. Column locations for the first record of the twelfth record type in the microcomputer data should be increased by 13 to match the data. The other records in this group are correctly documented. Part 5 is a textfile containing open-ended questions and answers, and has a maximum logical record length of 80.

This version of the study is no longer available on the web. If you need to acquire this version of the data, you have to contact ICPSR User Support (
Alternative Identifiers
  • 7994 (Type: ICPSR Study Number)
  • Is previous version of
    DOI: 10.3886/ICPSR07994.v2
  • Osborne, Evan. Who should be worried about asymmetric information in litigation?. International Review of Law and Economics.19, (3), 399-409.1999.
    • ID: 10.1016/S0144-8188(99)00011-3 (DOI)
  • Hensler, Deborah R.. A review: surveying the litigation landscape: The Civil Litigation Research Project. Public Opinion Quarterly.51, (4), 571-579.1987.
    • ID: 10.1086/269060 (DOI)
  • Kritzer, Herbert M.. Adjudication to settlement: Shading in the gray. Judicature.70, (3), 161-165.1986.
  • Kritzer, H.M., Felstiner, W.L.F., Sarat, A., Trubek, D.. The Impact of Fee Arrangement on Lawyer Effort. Law and Society Review.19, (2), 251-278.1985.
    • ID: (URL)
  • Trubek, D., Sarat, A., Felstiner, W.L.F., Kritzer, H.M., Grossman, J.B.. The Costs of Ordinary Litigation. UCLA Law Review.31, (1), 72-127.1984.
  • Trubek, D., Felstiner, W.L.F., Grossman, J., Kritzer, H.M., Sarat, A.. Civil Litigation Research Project, Final Report. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Law School, Civil Litigation Research Project. 1983.

Update Metadata: 2015-08-05 | Issue Number: 3 | Registration Date: 2015-06-30

Kritzer, Herbert M.; Trubek, David M.; Felstiner, William L.F.; Grossman, Joel B.; Sarat, Austin (1984): Civil Litigation in the United States, 1977-1979. Version 1. Version: v1. ICPSR - Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research. Dataset.